DENVER — Mason Plumlee is still getting used to being a Denver Nugget.
After exiting the showers, getting dressed at his locker but before speaking with the media following the Nuggets’ 129-109 win over the Brooklyn Nets, Plumlee went searching for a locker room attendant. The 26-year-old, who’s spent just under two weeks with the Nuggets after Denver acquired him in a pre-deadline deal with Portland is still getting used to his surroundings.
Plumlee wasn’t sure of where in the locker room to place a package in order it to get sent out in the mail the next day.
His teammates are getting used to him as well. After Plumlee’s 12-point, 12-rebounds, eight-assist effort Friday, it’s clear why Tim Connelly and his front office took a liking to the seven-footer.
“This is the Mason Plumlee we envisioned,” Michael Malone said after the win. “What I love about Mason, is that he was so disappointed in his performance last night, that he told one of our coaches, ‘hey I’m going to be a lot better tonight.’ And he was.”
Plumlee shined in Denver’s latest blowout win. For the first time in the three games he’s spent with the Nuggets, Plumlee looked like the Nikola Jokic-lite, playmaking center that bridges the gap of continuity between Denver’s first and second units.
With Jusuf Nurkic previously at center with the second team, the Nuggets’ offensive continually reverted to an isolation-heavy, jump-shooting offense, but Plumlee brings a lot of the same qualities to the table that Jokic does.
“Having a guy like Plumlee allows us to play the same way,” Malone said.
Here’s Plumlee doing something he maybe does better than Jokic; passing on the move. Plumlee brings a whole new type of athlete to Denver’s center position. Being able to pass like this is sugar on top.
Or how about this Plumlee drop-off to Gary Harris? Two fake dribble hand-offs before leading Harris with a well-placed bounce pass. It’s also not surprising Harris is on the other end of these assists either. The smooth-shooting two-guard is scoring 2.4 points per game on “cuts,” per NBA.com, the second most of all perimeter plays, save for Gordon Hayward.
“Guys like playing with him because he’s unselfish,” Malone said. He sets great screens and he rolls.”
Three games into his Nuggets’ tenure and Plumlee is obviously growing fond of his teammates. While he looked unsure of himself on the floor in his two previous games in Denver, Saturday night was a glimpse of Plumlee’s present and future, one that will keep him with the Nuggets for a while, if Connelly has his way this summer.
“It’s growing,” Plumlee said of the comfort level he has with his teammates. “As you continue to grow it’s just going to get better. I think it will improve. I’m feeling guys on the floor. What guy’s like to do. Tendencies. Stuff like that for your own teammates is very important. So it will just get better.”
Malone hasn’t been shy about getting Plumlee in the mix either. In three games, Plumlee has logged 34, 22, and 23 minutes respectively. With Jokic in foul trouble against Brooklyn, Plumlee was featured with the starters and bench. He excelled to the tune of a +15 plus-minus.
Plumlee looks like he belongs in Denver. He’s comfortable in his role, growing a chemistry between him and his teammates and learning the culture from Jokic, who’s locker is directly to his right.
“It’s a fun group. Glad to be a part of it,” Plumlee said. “Glad they brought me here.”